Mining Searchers’ Queries for Information

Search engines, and the people who constantly improve and update them are getting smarter and smarter when it comes to finding ways to make the results of those search engines more relevant.

One area they are paying more attention to is in search engine log files, watching how searchers interact with the search engines. I wanted to do some more research on how researchers might be looking at queries, and collected some citations to a number of pages involving that type of research.

This is by no means the canonical list of search engine/user behavior papers, but it’s a start…

More on Deletion Predictions

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Google predictive queries

Speeding Up the Web

The web is transforming from its earlier days when every bit of information was carefully considered by a webmaster before adding an image or some text to a web page.

I remember spending hours and hours optimizing images so that they were small and still decent looking, and squeezing white space out of html to make pages faster for phone modem transmissions. Learning as much as possible about Cascading Style Sheets was important because they could help shave a lot of html out of a page. Not everyone considers this stuff, and it feels kind of odd going to sites that get millions of views a month, and seeing them using tables and font tags.

Bandwidth has improved, and more images, pictures, video, and content comes across the screen than ever before. And, that kind of use will probably only grow. Which means that we will need more bandwidth.

Google’s Need for Speed

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Expanding Google Suggest in Legal Dispute

Google has had a new patent application published at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which provides an expanded view of how it may present real time suggestions for queries when someone is typing words into a search box. At the same time, Google has come under fire, and faces litigation, for their predictive suggestions.

This post takes a quick look at the litigation, the new patent application, some of the additional processes that it uses in filtering and collecting information about queries, and why all this might matter to people who are interested in having their web sites found through Google.

Litigation over Google Query Suggestions

A Belgian software company is pursuing legal proceedings against Google for toolbar suggestions which are pointing to illegal versions of the software that company offers, when someone searches for their name. The case was originally initiated back in February, and appears to be ready to go to trial. It raises some interesting issues involving what happens when a search engine provides suggestions in a tool like Google Suggest, or though a toolbar.

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A Look at Google Midpage Query Refinements

Google Introduces Midpage Query Refinements

In early April, Googleguy posted at the Search Engine Watch Forums, and his post was split off into a thread titled Google Confirms Mid-Page “See Results For” Section No Longer A Test; Suggest A Name!.

In his post, he tells us that:

In fact, this is no longer a test. We do this when we see a query (e.g. [katrina] or something similar) that we think might benefit from a refinement, (e.g. maybe you wanted to search for [hurricane katrina]).

If you haven’t seen the additional query results in question, they are links for some alternative suggested search terms, appearing in the middle of the top ten results that Google returns.

Those alternative suggestions had been referred to as user interface (UI) experiments, along with a number of other different ways of presenting Google results.

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Correcting Chinese Characters in Search Queries

I had a chance to spend a little time with Ian McAnerin at the New York SES before his near brush with a Fiery Explosion!, and he briefly mentioned some of the challenges facing search engines in China, including the use of simplified Chinese characters.

Ian is one of the speakers who will appear at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in China later this month. I don’t know if it will come up at the sessions there, but those simplified Chinese characters pose some interesting challenges to the search engines. I posted about a couple of patent applications from Google on Chinese characters last December.

Google has released another patent application involving Chinese characters in search queries: Fault-tolerant romanized input method for non-roman characters

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Google Looks at Multi-Stage Query Processing

Multi-Stage Query Processing at Google

Determining how a term or phrase may be used in the context of a page can be helpful in deciding how relevant that page is in responding to a query from a searcher.

A patent application from Google was published this week which looks at possible ways of considering the context of those words, and describes a multiple stage process to determine relevancy and find results to a search.

Multi-Stage Query Processing Description Flowchart

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